ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Hundreds of lobbyists in at least 20 states get public pensions because they represent associations of counties, cities and school boards.
Legislatures granted them access decades ago on the premise that they serve governments and the public. In many cases, such access also includes state health care benefits.
But several states have started to question whether these organizations should get such benefits, since they are private entities in most respects: They face no public oversight, can pay their top executives private-sector salaries and sometimes lobby for positions in conflict with taxpayers.
New Jersey and Illinois are among the states considering legislation that would end their inclusion.
But such groups argue that they are entitled to public pensions because they give a voice to government entities that serve taxpayers.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — A budding rift over the use of protected rivers and streams in south-central Missouri for baptisms is over before it really got started.
Republican U.S. Representative Jason Smith raised concerns in a letter this week to Ozark National Scenic Riverways superintendent William Black about permits required for baptisms. The riverways is part of the National Park Service, providing oversight for sections of the Jacks Fork and Current rivers, along with creeks and streams near those rivers.
Smith questioned why a government agency would get in the way of river baptisms, a tradition of rural Missouri life.
Black responded in a letter to Smith Thursday saying the permit issue was a misunderstanding, and that he was clarifying policy to ensure that no permit is required.
ST. CHARLES, Mo. (AP) — A 36-year-old mother is charged with making her oldest children sell drugs and raising them in a bug-infested home.
The St. Louis Post-Dispatch Carrie Ryan of O'Fallon is charged in St. Charles County with one count of felony child endangerment and two counts of misdemeanor child endangerment. No attorney is listed for her in online court records.
Police say Ryan is an alcoholic, and when they arrived at her home, she was extremely intoxicated. Officers said Ryan's home was filthy and was infested with bedbugs, fleas and lice.
Police also said her 3-year-old daughter hadn't been treated for head lice, even though she'd had them since at least July 29th. Police say the children are in the care of a relative.